Top 10 Military SciFi Movies of All Time (Video Edition)
EDGE OF TOMORROW hit theaters today and combines two tried and true genres: military and science fiction. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly and encompass both our fear of the unknown and hope for the future. Here is our ranking of the ten best military science fiction movies of all time. Remember, war is not a requirement for these genres but it certainly helps. If your favorite didn't make the list, feel free to add it to the talk backs below.
AVATAR brings together the same militaristic feel of the James Cameron TERMINATOR movies and places it directly into a story about genocide. The technology on display from the human soldiers in the movie is hardcore and Jake Sully's commitment to his Marine training is evident throughout. Stephen Lang's portrayal of Colonel Quaritch is a great villain if not a stereotypical military bad guy.
STAR WARS may be focused on the cool powers of the Jedi, but you cannot overlook the vital role the Empire plays in the film. The Stormtrooper and Imperial Army have become lasting visuals since the release of the first film and has only grown over the years. The Rebel Alliance is just as vital, but how can you have a movie list like this without including STAR WARS?
Possibly the most unconventional movie on this list, ENEMY MINE is not about direct warfare or combat but rather about two soldiers from opposing sides of an intergalactic war who must learn to survive together. The movie may look a little goofy 30 years later, but ENEMY MINE is a powerful movie about brotherhood and xenophobia. Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr. are great as the two foes who become brothers.
While not a traditional military outfit, the Jaeger program (aka Pan Pacific Defense Corps) from PACIFIC RIM is a perfect example of disparate nations banding together to battle a singular foe in the Kaiju. The military presence is represented by Idris Elba as Marshall Stacker Pentecost (best name ever, by the way) and while they are a ragtag group of fighters, there is a clear sense of unified purpose and mission behind their training and actions. Plus, the robots just look so damn cool.
A beloved novel that didn't quite become the film everyone was hoping for, ENDER'S GAME does a great job of showcasing a military force that isn't quite what it seems to be. Harrison Ford and Viola Davis turn in good performances, but Ben Kinglsey as Mazer Rackham is the highlight of the film. His backstory is quite interesting to watch, but there is something unsettling about seeing children developed into a fighting force that sets ENDER'S GAME apart.
The STARGATE film has a delicate balance between the human military and science experts who must join forces to defeat the alien menace they encounter, a theme that grew on the subsequent television series and spin-off films. But, Kurt Russell as Colonel Jack O'Neil delivers a lasting character that will hopefully return in a significant capacity in the announced reboot trilogy.
After the original STAR WARS trilogy had been released, THE LAST STARFIGHTER brought the desire of every kid who wanted to be Luke Skywalker one step closer by proposing that a video game could be the entrance exam to joining the Rylan Star League. I know that after seeing the movie, I wanted so badly for one day one of my games to suddenly have this power. Much like the Rebel Alliance, the Rylan Star League is a mix of alien races joining forces to defeat an evil enemy. The effects may be dated, but THE LAST STARFIGHTER is still pretty damn awesome.
The epitome of science fiction military organization, STAR TREK has always been more about exploration and peace rather than all out violent war. But, that is not to say that the dozen films released do not have conflict. STAR TREK has always been more of a thinking man's series that follows a more realistic path for where our future could lead. Starfleet and the Federation represent a more idealistic future that we rarely see in movies outside of this franchise. J.J. Abrams' rebooted series still retains that hopefulness but with a bit of an edge missing from prior films.
Switching gears from the haunted house in space model of Ridley Scott's original, James Cameron injected some serious hooah into the sequel. Bringing in a team of mercenaries with military training, ALIENS is an awesome mix of firepower and horror. Bring on the big guns and the massive artillery and you get the evolution of scary movie to scary action movie that has yet to be topped in the ALIEN franchise.
This may be far from the best movie on this list, but 1997's STARSHIP TROOPERS is a guilty pleasure and action movie delight. Full of satire of war movies from film history, Paul Verhoeven's movie is a gory spectacle of the highest caliber. Don't forget, there are also boobies galore including a sexy Denise Richards and a gorgeous Dina Meyer. Casper Van Dien may be the lead, but Michael Ironside steals the show alongside a pre-HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER Neil Patrick Harris.